Author Jack Stetson will launch his newly-authored book entitled The Life & Times of the Great Danbury State Fair this afternoon. The book is presented in two part. The first was written by Gladys Stetson Leahy in the 1950s and the second was penned by her grandson, Jack. He said he decided to complete the history by adding his firsthand experiences of growing up in and around the fair.
The book launch is being hosted by the Danbury Museum & Historical Society.
The fair had fallen into disrepair during World War II and had a lot of debts.
Stetson details how his grandfather, John Leahy, was sold a share of fair stock by one customer who wanted to pay a bill that way. He went to the President of the Fair and to another official of the fair, and discussed the proposition of buying it from them.
They didn't have children interested in reopening the fair after World War II and were excited to find someone who was interest. They sold their stock little by little until Leahy owned a controlling interest in 1945. Leahy then used his own money to refurbish the buildings, pave the streets and get the fair ready to reopen.
Festivities will begin at 4pm in Huntington Hall, located on the museum campus at 43 Main Street. Stetson will lead a discussion at 4pm and at 5:30pm about his inspiration for writing the book. Stetson will also sign copies for attendees.
Danbury Museum & Historical Society Executive Director Brigid Guertin says the Danbury Fair is an iconic and well-loved symbol of the history of the city. The organization provided archival research and photos to Stetson. A portion of all sales at the launch and signing event are being donated to the museum by Stetson. Books may be purchased at the museum beginning today in the gift shop.